Column: Orange and Brown

(Photo Credit: Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)

By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt

I was born in a small town.

Avon, New York is only about 15 miles from Rochester. But, jump on the thruway and 75 minutes later you’re in Orange country.

I am one of thousands (if not millions) of people who have Syracuse Orange flowing through my veins. My grandparents went to Syracuse, and my dad, uncle and aunt all grew up there. Today, I have more family that still lives in Otto’s land than anywhere else, and I was raised loyal to the Orange.

That being said, however, Syracuse University was not for me. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the opportunity to go to the Newhouse School of Journalism (probably one of the top three communications schools in the country with alumni that go by the names of Bob Costas and Mike Tirico) then I would’ve been there in a heartbeat, but I didn’t have the grades.

Instead, coming from a small town, I decided to focus on applying to smaller schools—Ithaca, Cortland, RIT, St. John Fisher and that little school in Olean, NY.

When I trudged through the snow on a tour of St. Bonaventure University’s campus,  I fell in love with the architecture of the buildings, the family like atmosphere and most of all the ability to cover NCAA Division I sports as a little freshman.

As an aspiring young sports writer, the opportunity to cover Division I sports was mesmerizing. St. Bonaventure University, it would be.

From the day I arrived on campus, I was swooped into being a fan of the Bonnies. I admired the way Charlon Kloof played the game with pure athleticism and how consistent Dion Wright was as a forward. It was clear to me, Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt knew exactly how to build a good team at a small school with a small budget- impressive to say the least.

However, I also watched every single Syracuse game that year and went to the NCAA Tournament game at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo where the Dayton Flyers upset my beloved Orange.

And you know what? Not once did any Bonaventure faithful yell at me that year for wearing my orange and blue around campus. Not once did I get called out for rooting for both Bonaventure and Syracuse.

But this year, something weird happened. Something weird but predictable.

In my opinion the stars just happened to align in a strange way. First, the Bonnies traveled to Syracuse in November and played the Cuse to the bitter end, leading by as much as 10 points in the game but ultimately falling short.

I was not at this game, I was in Washington D.C. studying, but my mom wore a Bonnies t-shirt and a Syracuse hat to the game (she also noted many others were doing the same). Then, St. Bonaventure was left out of the tournament while the Orange, who limped to the finish line this season, celebrated when their name was announced on CBS.

Now even though it wasn’t Syracuse’s fault Bonaventure didn’t get in, you wouldn’t know that on campus.

Anger, sadness, depression. Trust me, I was angry too when Bonaventure lost to Davidson and lost out on a bid to get in the tourney. I went to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn as a fan and could barely watch towards the end of regulation. And as the game went into overtime I was so nervous and afterwards, when the Bonnies lost, I was heartbroken. But, I was also extremely happy when Syracuse heard their name called the next weekend—and I’ll cheer for my Orange (who are now in the Sweet 16) till the bitter end.

Now, I’m not saying I expect the fiercely loyal Bonaventure fans to cheer for Syracuse, but for god sake, YOU ARE NOT GEORGETOWN. The Syracuse-Bonaventure rivalry did once exist but it has been over for a long time. The Atlantic 10 and the ACC are both exceptional basketball conferences but let’s not kid ourselves, they are two different types of basketball.

Bonaventure attracts many from the 315 area and not only that—Syracuse is the premier team of the northeast. Kids from all over will come to St. Bonaventure, and they will wear their orange and blue around campus with pride. Syracuse is New York’s team for sure.

So, when I walk around campus with my Syracuse gear on, if I continue to hear “f*ck Cuse!” It won’t make me hate St. Bonaventure and curse Mark Schmidt and it won’t make me stop rooting for the Orange and their Hall of Fame head coach. I’ll just continue to smile because I’m proud to be orange and brown.

Behind The Wolfpack: Men’s Soccer Look To Correct Mistakes In Conference Play

[Emmett O’Connor searches for goal against Canisius last weekend – Photo courtesy of]

By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13

The St. Bonaventure University men’s soccer team controlled the pace from the opening whistle against their Little Three rival, the Niagara Purple Eagles. The defense pressured the Eagles into early mistakes, and scoring opportunities were opening up.

Then, in the 13th minute, Brad Vanino blasted home a rebound into the back of the net for his first goal of the season and seemingly gave the Bonnies momentum to turn things around.

But just one minute later, a breakdown on the back line allowed Niagara to tie the game  – one they would eventually win 3-2. It’s the perfect microcosm of the Bonnies’ season. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

“We’re still looking for answers,” seventh-year head coach Mel Mahler said during practice. “As a coach, I’m trying to find a lineup that is most effective and figure out a way to turn this thing around.”

And the season is desperately in need of a turnaround.

Through nine games of their non-conference schedule, the Bonnies (1-8) have been outscored by a total of 29 to 6. They have suffered through injuries, suffered through mental lapses and played down a man multiple times in games.

“We lack leadership,” Mahler said frankly. “Leadership from the standpoint of helping keep the team focused and giving direction.

We lack communication at key points — that’s a leadership issue.”

However, the Brown and White have been able to tighten up the defense, one that ranks among the worst in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In their last three match-ups, the Bonnies have held opponents to just five goals, after surrendering 10 in two games against Hartwick and Syracuse.

“We made a formation change on defense,” junior midfielder Brad Vanino said. “We are focusing on it in practice and making sure we keep the ball out of the back of our net.”

But Mahler is not fond of the idea of having to sit back and play a counter-attacking style. He prefers to have an attacking style offense, one that sees the back line coming up into the attack and helping out the forwards.

But after surrendering an onslaught of goals, changes had to be made.

“We took the attacking responsibility away from our defenders,” Mahler said. “We’ve been trying the past few weeks to learn how get 10 players behind the ball, win it and how to attack from there. It’s a learning curve.”

Unfortunately for the Bonnies, the learning curve may be taking too long. With just one more non-conference match-up scheduled before A-10 play, they need to pick up the system quickly.

“We’ve definitely learned a lot about our defense and we played great competition during our non-conference schedule,” Vanino said of his team. “Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and improve in conference play.”

For a team that lacks a true identity, one that has dominated games and still managed to find a way to lose, it’s a long road ahead.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Mahler said of his struggling team. “We’ve dug ourselves a really deep hole, and we have to find a way to get out.”

With a daunting A-10 conference season on the horizon, the Brown and White need to correct the mistakes that have haunted them or it will be a long and chilly fall season for the men’s soccer team.